We talked with glass artist Sibelle Yüksek about her production practice and work, who creates pieces inspired by human anatomy, elements in nature and the art of movement.
Who is Sibelle Yüksek? Can you briefly tell us about yourself?
Currently, I live in downtown Los Angeles, working from my studio loft. I grew up in Virginia Beach where I spent most of my time on the beach or at my parent’s restaurant drawing and reading comic books. I went to school at Virginia Commonwealth University where I double majored in Illustration and Glass. When I moved to LA, I became a full-time production flame worker for Neptune Glassworks and maintained this position for 5 years until I went independent in 2020.
You produce contemporary and innovative forms we are not used to in your glass practice. What was the process of the emergence of your unique language?
I’m fortunate to have a background in fine arts and experience working in the world of interior design. The combination of these, along with my childish love for fantasy, has led me to evolve naturally with the intention of creating pieces that I’ve only imagined on paper. The intro years of glasswork are so difficult because, without the motor training, one cannot simply make anything they desire from glass. It takes many years of practice and building a relationship with the material in order to unlock full expression.
The forms and techniques used in glass art are usually based on the artist's imagination and sources of inspiration. What is your source of inspiration in glass art, and how do you think this source has shaped your art? Can you tell us a little about the story of the forms you use in your work?
I am deeply influenced by Japanese comic books and animation. The elements of fantasy, dynamic movement and female power inspired me throughout my artistic experimentation. I’ve stuck to creating pieces that I truly love and would want for myself. Because of that, I’ve tried to maintain a unique aesthetic especially within the cannabis industry.
Do you use digital or analog techniques in the design process?
My design process changes depending on what comes to mind. I may come across an image online that interests me to continue investigating or I may see something from daily life that I’ll hold in my memory to push further. I almost always draw my ideas on paper first. If I’m having trouble with the color palette or balance, I will move to a digital platform.
Unlike many art disciplines, glass has a particular position, including design and craft. Where do you prefer to position yourself in the artist, designer, and craftsman triangle?
I like to see myself as a bridge between all three because I use skills from each category in rotation. When I make my larger sculptural pieces, I strive to hit those marks. At the same time, I want my pieces to function properly while enhancing a space artistically, giving it a double purpose. Some of my production work, like jewelry and accessories, may fall into a “craftsman” category as the pieces can be replicated without nuanced interpretation.
Artworks have the power to provoke emotions and draw the viewer into a story or the world created by the artist.
Which of your works to date excites you the most?
I’m currently very happy with the “Cyber Girl” body of work. These recent pieces have pushed me to develop my unique aesthetic beyond “just the body”. Simply making a female form can be done by anyone, but what you do with it, can make the pieces completely different. I want my figures to stand out as my own without question. It’s difficult to achieve a unique voice in the glass pipe industry.
Who are the names you follow with curiosity in this field or different disciplines?
I love work from Martin Janecky, Amber Cowan, and Kit Paulson, but I mostly enjoy works from painters like James Jean, Soey Milk and Hajime Sorayama.
Are you excited for the future, and what are your plans?
I love traveling, so this year is going to be fun. I will be a demo artist at the Glass Art Society Conference in Detroit in June and at the Michigan Glass Project in conjunction. I’m teaching a 1 week intensive at the Corning Museum in July. In August, I will be a demo artist at the Degenerate Flame Off and in October I will demo at Cultiva Hanfexo in Vienna.